The Yellow Boat Project: A General Overview
by Teddy Cambosa
Zamboanga City: a maiden city in the far-flung island of Mindanao, is one of the “Land of Promise” cities that since antiquity had well-preserved the colourful and deep history of the land, particularly by the Moro people. It is where the most activity of Mindanao happens, and in some cases, a secondary figure from her sister city Davao in terms of commerce and tourism. It is also worth noting that the city is a beautiful melt pot of cultures, from the existence of natural tourist spots such as the Merloquet Falls and Abong Abong River, to the Spanish heritage that is the origin of the city’s Chavacano language, to the Western heritage of a city growing up in development, it is no wonder why Zamboanga City is given so many names, including “City of Flowers” and “Asia’s Latin City”.
Despite these factors, there are certain barangays (or counties) that are far from the city proper itself. And with the existence of these barangays, some of them could not afford ample simple transportation services, especially those living near coastal places that are laden with thick quantities of mangrove trees. Though scientifically speaking, mangroves are very beneficial in keeping tidal waves away from these coastal communities, the abundance of water that mangrove needs pose a conflict among the residents of Sitio Layag-layag in Zamboanga City to get to the city proper. Every day, they would have to swim to and fro to the city, with the depths that are way past above their heads. Hence, since 2011, the Yellow Boat Project has initially turned over 900 boats to various coastal communities in Zamboanga City that are primarily used by students to go to their schools clean dry, to the residents who bring their trading goods and raw materials to sell, and more importantly, used as mobile units to save the residents that are stranded when torrential rains come every monsoon season annually, and being used to transport relief goods and supplies, in partnership with other large volunteer groups such as the Philippine Red Cross.
The context for this humanitarian work is that the Philippines-though tropical in classification-is a gateway to most strong typhoons that normally occur between the months of June and November. And these monsoon seasons pose a great danger to the Filipinos, especially those living in coastal and water-based communities. With the Philippines being an archipelagic nation, accumulation of water during the rainy seasons would mean countless water surges that in turn flood the mainlands, severely affecting not only the local economy but also causing pandemonium that greatly disturbs the normal cycle of the locality. Though relocation is an option, it should be reminded that some societies exist in perilous places (as mentioned like coastal communities) because it is considered their source of income, and with their less amount of income would mean less money to be allocated for other necessities aside from food and clothing. Hence, the inclusion of movable transport within the community is a lot more preferable to foster movement and income to the locals and make bridges towards development.
The Yellow Boat Project, formerly known as the Philippine Funds for Kids, was the brainchild of Jay Jaboneta, a Filipino blogger, and Anton Mari H. Lim, a Filipino veterinarian. The project started out as a national campaign by Jaboneta and Lim upon their visit in Sitio Layag-layag and learning that kids go to school by swimming in the river to get to school. Launched in 2010, the national movement through social media caught the attention of initial donors, and in May 2011, through the generous donation of the City Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of logs confiscated from illegal logging, the initial boat was being turned over to Sitio Layag-layag in March 2011. Since then, the word has been spread out through social media, and their advocacy has been brought to other less-fortunate places in the Philippines, such as in the Province of Masbate, considered as one of the country’s poorest provinces. The Yellow Boat Project continuously coordinates with other interested donors to find new communities for the turning over of boats. It is also worth mentioning that the Yellow Boat Project, in partnership with another organization called the Tzu Chi Foundation, has since then expounded the project by building and maintaining a daycare centre, building classrooms and schools, dorms, providing scholarships, providing school bags and other school supplies, conducting medical/dental missions, and empowering the community as a whole through applicable environmental and livelihood programs.
The Yellow Boat Project beliefs in the fact that by aiding the children, we create these abstract bridges that brings the future and the child closer. As being noted by the country’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal: “The children are the hope of this Fatherland.” And with this great adage, The Yellow Boat Project believes that every boat is a symbol of hope, that no matter how different our social status are, as long as there is a helping hand, it takes every swish in the water, and every wood chipped to become a boat for a child to be optimist of the future.
The Yellow Boat Project accepts donation through its Philippine bank account on Banco de Oro (BDO), both Peso and US Dollar accounts. You can also register to their official website at http://yellowboat.org and your donation shall be credited from your PayPal account. For other information and concerns, interested donors may get in touch at [email protected].